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Audio Terminology For The New Church Sound Guy

Starting out in Church audio can be challenging, especially if you don't understand the lingo! However, we're here to help.
This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

 
“The info I read or hear is too geeked out for me to understand,” wrote a commenter on another audio web site.

The longer any of us work in this field, the more we sling around the technical words as easily as rubber bands.

With that in mind, I pulled together a short list of the more commonplace terms that many of us use.

In no particular order, though with a slightly major bias towards an alphabetical listing…

Auxiliary (Commonly used phrases: “aux sends” and “aux returns”)
Auxiliary is simply the idea of “in addition to.” Therefore, a piece of auxiliary equipment is not a primary piece of equipment like a mixer or an amp but is instead something like a reverb unit or a compressor.

The phrases “aux send” and “aux return” are usually used in reference to the audio signal of a particular channel.

For example, channel four on the mixer sends a signal out via the aux send port to an auxiliary reverb unit and that new modified signal returns via the aux return port.

Aux sends might also be used for sending the signal to a monitor and therefore the mixing console is configured so if you turn up the #1 aux send on the channel, it controls the volume of that signal sent to the monitor.

Cardioid
For some reason, whenever I heard of microphones being discussed, the polar pattern type of cardioid is mentioned the most. Microphones can pick up sound in different areas around the microphone.

The areas are characterized by their shape and classified as polar patterns. For example, an omni-directional microphone can pick up sound in a complete orb around the microphone. A cardioid picks up sound primarily in front of the microphone, a little on the side, and nothing behind the microphone.

If you did a cross section of that area, it would look like a valentine’s day heart. Cardioid = heart-shape.

The reason that polar patterns are important is they help control the ambient sounds that are picked up by the microphone.

For example, if you are standing in front of a floor monitor, you don’t want the microphone to pick up the sounds from the monitor, so a cardioid microphone is a good choice.

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